Festivals: Vancouver IFF

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Vancouver 2019 Review: THE LIGHTHOUSE, Startling, Darkly Funny Maritime Nightmare

After a sleeper hit and critical success with 2015's The Witch, writer/director Robert Eggers crafts a startling, darkly funny maritime nightmare: The Lighthouse. Like Eggers' debut feature, The Lighthouse is fully committed to the aesthetics, language, and atmosphere of its...

Vancouver 2019 Review: STILL HUMAN Features Incredibly Moving Performances

Directed by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan, Still Human tells the story of a friendship that blossoms between a man living with a disability and his live-in Filipina caregiver. Veteran Hong Kong actor Anthony Wong plays Cheong-wing, who was paralyzed in a...

Vancouver 2019 Review: PAIN AND GLORY, Restrained and Reinvigorated

Antonio Banderas does perhaps his best work to date in Pain and Glory, for which he deservedly won Best Actor at this year's Cannes Film Festival. He slips surprisingly well into Pedro Almodovar's loafers -- easier than sneakers to put...

Vancouver 2019 Review: KILLER QUEEN, Love Letter to Exploitation Cinema

Nostalgia was the driving force for the creation of some of the most interesting and entertaining genre films (and television series) of the past several years. While it's typical for nostalgic movies to fuss over wardrobe, décor, and music selections,...

Vancouver 2019 Review: THE WORLD IS BRIGHT, Touching to Watch, Thrilling to Follow

Mr. and Mrs. Deng were at home in Beijing when they received word from the Canadian government that their son, Shi Ming, had committed suicide in Vancouver, where he'd been living. The notification contained little detail, and the Dengs were...

Vancouver 2019 Review: TAPEWORM, Canadian Cringe Comedy

One of the very first visuals in Tapeworm, shot on lovely 16mm, is a decent-sized pile of bloody human stool in a field. This is really the only such gross-out image, but it establishes the tone for Fabián Velasco and...

Vancouver 2019 Review: BIRTHDAY, Genuine Emotional Catharsis

In April of 2014, the Sewol ferry sank off the coast of South Korea, on its way to Jeju island from the northern city of Incheon. It was carrying 476 people--304 of whom died, 250 of them students from the...

Vancouver 2018 Review: NO. 1 CHUNG YING STREET Champions the Spirit and Courage of Hong Kong

No. 1 Chung Ying Street is the latest from director Derek Chiu, a well-established figure in the Hong Kong film industry. The movie takes place during two periods of political unrest in Sha Tau Kok, a neighborhood that borders mainland...

Vancouver 2018 Review: LUSH REEDS Balances Comedy Expertly with Uneasy Dread

Xiayin (Huang Lu) is a journalist in Nanjing, living with her professor husband and her dog, and expecting her first child. Increasingly frustrated by the restrictions put upon her reporting by her supervisor, she goes against his wishes to investigate...

Vancouver 2018 Review: THE DARLING, Sadness and Dark Hilarity Abound

The Darling finds a young Korean actress, Lee Sun-hwa (played by Jang Jieun), spending some time abroad in Vancouver, ostensibly to visit her sister and brother-in-law. As she takes in the sights and interacts with the locals, it becomes clear...

Vancouver 2018 Interview: Ron Mann Preserves Holy History in CARMINE STREET GUITARS

It may not sound like groundbreaking stuff - a quaint documentary about a custom guitar shop in the heart of Greenwich Village - but make no mistake, Ron Mann’s latest laid-back documentary, Carmine Street Guitars, is the most unassuming, sneakily...

Vancouver 2018 Review: EDGE OF THE KNIFE, Immersed in the 19th Century

Edge of the Knife (aka SGaawaay K'uuna) is a film whose reputation will precede it, but for all the right reasons. Its existence marks the first ever feature entirely in Haida, an indigenous language that is spoken fluently by less than...

Vancouver 2018 Review: THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT, Lars von Trier's True "Kanye Moment"

Matt Dillon commits fully to the role of serial killer Jack, who works as an engineer and suffers from crippling OCD, among other psychological issues. Like a square version of American Psycho's Patrick Bateman, Jack gleefully embraces his dark nature and never tries to thwart his heinous impulses.

Vancouver 2018 Review: BERGMAN: A YEAR IN A LIFE Digs Deep

I’m writing this review from a friend’s kitchen where I’m staring at a very apropos Jack Kerouac magnet that quotes him saying “All I have to offer anyone is my confusion.” In digesting the Ingmar Bergman doc I’ve just seen,...

Vancouver 2018 Review: Hosada Returns with the Mesmerizing MIRAI

Part Alice in Wonderland, part A Christmas Carol, Hosada's latest film is as charming and moving as his other works--and perhaps even more beautifully animated.

Vancouver 2018 Review: THE OLD MAN & THE GUN is a Bittersweet Delight

In David Lowery's The Old Man & the Gun, Robert Redford plays a version of real life legend, Forrest Tucker, the old timer who robbed countless banks in his lifetime, broke out of jail sixteen times, yet still found the time to court pretty women like Jewel, played by the eternally lovable Sissy Spacek.

Vancouver 2018 Review: WANGDRAK'S RAIN BOOTS

Wangdrak (Druklha Dorje) is a spirited first-grader living in a rural farming village in Tibet. As the movie begins, his daily routine, walking to school with a neighborhood girl, playing with his wind-up frog, has been disrupted by the rainy...

Vancouver 2018 Review: THE SISTERS BROTHERS

The Sisters Brothers is an excellent movie, but it is being marketed in all the wrong ways. I suppose if it results in a financial success, then all's well that ends well. I worry, though, that once general audiences see...

Vancouver 2017 Review: BLACK COP Does Its Concept Justice

Between its success at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it premiered earlier this year, and here at VIFF, where it won the Canadian Feature award, Black Cop has become something of a sensation. Its concept is an undeniably timely,...

Vancouver 2017 Review: MAISON DU BONHEUR, a Lovely Portrait

Filmmaker Sofia Bohdanowicz's 2016 film, Never Eat Alone, won her VIFF's Emerging Canadian Director prize for that year. Now, she returns to the festival with her newest feature, Maison du bonheur. How the film came to be is a charming...